Sunday, April 13, 2008

More on defense

José L. Díaz Gallardo, “Carrera Civil en Defensa: Análisis y Propuestas Para el Caso Chileno.” Security and Defense Studies Review 7, 2 (Fall 2007): 130-144.

Full text is available

Following up on a discussion about Ecuador and lack of ministerial expertise, I remembered this article, in the journal edited by the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in DC. It’s a relatively new online-only journal and has published some interesting stuff on civil-military relations and defense. Díaz has written quite a few articles and books on Chilean civil-military relations, both historical and contemporary.

Abstract: Scholars have analyzed participation by civilians in defense ministries in Latin America from a dual perspective: as part of a civilian-military integration and as an instrument of civilian control of the sector. These practices have been adopted in a context of democratic consolidation and, in the governmental sphere, of a demand for rationalization and greater efficiency and effectiveness in the conduct of government.

The case of Chile is a good example of this. Since the restoration of democracy (1990), the inclusion of civilians in the Ministry has been a constant. All of the ministers have been civilians, as have all undersecretaries; however, because the Ministry does not have a permanent staff of civilian professionals, an Advisory Committee has gradually and inorganically developed within the Ministry, which brings in people who provide advisory services on political, politico-strategic, budgetary, international, communications and auditing issues.

The modernization of defense requires a new ministerial organization, which structure must take into consideration the Administrative Law that governs civil public administration. The new law governing the ministry should provide for, as one of its cornerstones, a civil service track for civilian professionals. Finally, the new Undersecretariats, divisions and departments must contribute to improving relations with the Armed Forces.

In Chile after 1990, only 3 of 10 Defense Ministers have had any defense expertise, though at least that was a greater percentage than the 1932-1973 period. However, in the postauthoritarian era the government has been paying more attention to professionalizing the bureucracy (and the Defense Ministry has been undergoing reforms to eliminate duplication of duties). Whether or not that translates into a larger, decently paid, and permanent staff remains to be seen.

But this is the sort of thing is something that all other Latin American countries should pursue because it will pay future dividends. It does no one any good to rely on political appointees with little or no relevant knowledge and informal kitchen cabinets to be the bridge between the president and the military leadership.


Tambopaxi 2:38 PM  


I agree with the need for permanent, civilian cadres within Ministries of Defense. Thing to keep in mind, though, is that while such an arrangement can't hurt, that civilian presence won't guarantee changes in military mindset in LA, at least not over short or even medium term. What we'll need in these countries is series of Presidents over time who share the attitudes you describe in your posting, i.e., who share a a common believe in the ineluctability (two bit word for the day) of civilian rule/leadership over the military....

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